The fall of Mosul to the extremists on Tuesday, after the apparent collapse of Iraqi security forces there, offers only the latest example of the extraordinary resurgence of the militant organization in the past 2½ years, aided to a large extent by the vacuum of authority in neighboring Syria.With their own state comes the ability to set up training camps and funding sources so that their terrorists can strike anywhere in the world - including the US.
The al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that confronted U.S. troops has since renamed itself to reflect its expanded activities in Syria, and it has fallen out with the al-Qaeda leadership. It has also become a far more lethal, effective and powerful force than it was when U.S. forces were present in Iraq.
“This is a force that is ideologically motivated, battle hardened and incredibly well equipped,” said Douglas Ollivant of the New America Foundation, who advised the Obama and George W. Bush administrations on Iraq, served two tours of duty in that country and has business interests there. “It also runs the equivalent of a state. It has all the trappings of a state, just not an internationally recognized one.”
ISIS owes its resurrection in no small part to the chaos in Syria, where large swaths of territory in areas bordering Iraq were falling out of government control just as U.S. troops were leaving, Ollivant said.
Most of ISIS’s expansion has come in the past year, however, after the group’s Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced its new mission in Syria and began recruiting across the northern and eastern parts of the country that were under rebel control. ISIS lured into its ranks the bulk of the thousands of foreign volunteers, some from Europe and the United States, who have streamed into Syria to wage jihad, further bolstering its numbers.
The group’s exact strength is not known, but Aymenn al-Tamimi, who monitors jihadist activity for the Middle East Forum, said its swift takeover of Mosul at a time when it is also fighting on other fronts suggests that it has a larger force than the 10,000 or so men it is widely reported to control.
The American trained Iraqi army may have collapsed leaving Baghdad at the mercy of ISIS. Still, I don't think they can manage a complete takeover of Iraq. Rather, they will carve out as much territory as they can hold and establish themselves as the world's first terrorist state.
God help the innocents who live in any city or town controlled by the ISIS.
It should be noted that these violent crazies are so bad, they've even been disavowed by al-Qaeda for their horrific actions in Syria
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